Lakers – Magic Postgame Numbers

We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 113-103 home loss at the hands of Orlando on Sunday evening:

Career 3-pointers hit by Metta World Peace. He became the 68th player in NBA history to reach the mark by hitting two third quarter three-pointers, adding another before the period had ended. He joins teammates Kobe Bryant (1,537) and Steve Nash (1,621) on that shooter’s list.

Points per game averaged by the Magic (28th in the NBA) coming into a game in which they managed 40 in the fourth quarter alone towards 113. The visitors – who approached the contest like a playoff game, particularly some of the veterans playing against Dwight Howard for the first time since he was traded – shot 54.8 percent against L.A. in the second half.

Pau Gasol’s shooting percentage through 17 games, for a career 51.9 percent shooter who’s never been below 50 percent in his career. The Spaniard has been battling knee tendinitis, and is also taking more long two-pointers and fewer shots at the rim than ever before. Bryant explained that his teammate simply needs to find a way to adjust:

Pau has to make some adjustments, obviously, to his game. He might not be posting up as much as he’d like. But he just has to adjust. The reality is I’ve adjusted. I’ve never run this many screen and rolls in my entire life, but I’ve worked on it. I’ve worked on handling the ball, worked on coming off the screens and making plays. I’m used to being in the post much, much more, but you have to adjust. You have to master what it is that we’re trying to do here. Pau is talented enough and good enough to be able to do that … Put your big boy pants on. Come on, just adjust, just adjust. You can’t whine about it, you can’t complain about it. Like I said, I’m 34 years old and I’m running screen and rolls out there because Steve (Nash) is out my ass is running up and down the court more than I ever have my entire career. But you have to adjust to it. I stay after practice, I work on my ballhandling, work on my screen and rolls and stuff like that. When you have the talent to adjust to it, you have to adjust to it.

Those comments should not be construed as Bryant calling out Gasol. Rather, he was asked what Gasol can do to be more productive, and he offered his opinion. Gasol did play well in the first half specifically, but seemed to struggle getting up and down the court and off the ground, suggesting his knees are bothering him at least to a degree.

Free throws attempted by Dwight Howard, as Magic coach Jacque Vaughn – the NBA’s youngest at 37 – opted for the Hack-a-Howard strategy late in the third quarter. Howard made only 9 of 21 from the charity stripe, bringing his season average down to 46.5 percent, a career low.

Assists for Jameer Nelson, who ate the Lakers up in the screen/roll game all evening, often feeding Arron Afflalo, who scored 30 points on 12 of 18 shooting and hit 4 of 8 three-pointers. L.A. struggled with Nelson in the pick and roll, with Howard mentioning a lack of helping the helper throughout the evening.

Turnovers for a Lakers’ team that came in leading the NBA in that category at 17.1 per game, one of the few bright spots on the evening.

Assists in the final three quarters for Kobe Bryant after he managed three in the first quarter alone. He began to look for his shot more and more out of screen/roll action as the game continued, ultimately taking 27 shots, making 12. He scored a game-high 34 points to keep his league lead in scoring, but after the game relayed the at times difficult adjustment he’s had to make handling the ball so much in the absence of L.A.’s top two point guards. After the game, he discussed the simple importance of teammates hitting open shots:

“We’re up and down,” he explained. “Some games we come out and we shoot the ball extremely, extremely well. On those nights, obviously the game is a lot easier for myself, it’s easier for Dwight (Howard), it’s easier for everybody because the floor can stay spaced because everybody is knocking down shots. Then there are nights where we don’t hit and it becomes a little harder, but like I said, we just have to make the easy ones.”